Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

81 Wrightwood evacuees at Victorville shelter; officials say no more homes have burned

October 4, 2009 | 10:58 pm

Armand Vasquez and his wife Novel usually reserve their blue and white recreational vehicle for vacations like the one they took from California to the East Coast last year.

But on Sunday, their vehicle served a new purpose as they evacuated their home in the San Gabriel Mountain town of Wrightwood.

The couple, who live near Mountain High Ski resort, said they had been up since 4 a.m. when a friend called to tell them that the town was under a mandatory evacuation order. They piled their 1-year-old son, two dogs and pet pig into their RV and went to a Red Cross shelter set up at the Victorville fairground.

"You never know when you're going to be a victim," Novel Vasquez said.

Eighty-one people were registered at the shelter Sunday night, according to Red Cross officials. Authorities held a news conference at the fairground and told residents that although three homes were destroyed the day before, those still standing appeared to be undamaged.

"They basically said everything in Wrightwood is where you left it," said Mary Young-Diers, who hopes to be home by Tuesday.  "That'd be fabulous," she said.

Other Wrightwood residents sought shelter elsewhere. Before leaving his home, Joe Sestay said he had packed up his stamp collection and numerous photos of his two daughters.

"At the end of the day, that’s really what’s important," he said.

After watching the fire inch closer to his home during the day, Sestay left with his two dogs, Jack and Olive, and went to stay with a friend in Orange County.

He said he wouldn’t bring everything back to his home once he returned and plans to leave some valuables elsewhere as a precaution.

"The lesson is, plan ahead," he said. "I’m just not going to have all my eggs in one basket."

-- Nicole Santa Cruz in Wrightwood